24 July 2015

In the studio and around the home

Lately, we have been eating lots of greens.  Not just salad, I mean.  Spinach with meat and rice (that spinach is from our balcony garden), Mlukheye (wild leaves that we boil with chicken to make a soupy dish that the kids love with rice too), stuffed zucchini, okra with onions and tomato sauce... I love looking into my fridge and seeing all those vivid greens and reds and yellows. 

Last night D went on a bike ride with the little ones.  All three of them.  Doesn't sound like a big deal until you've tried to corral three energetic monkeys on bikes going helter-skelter up hills and around streets.  Nerve-wracking for a parent.  D is as cool as a cucumber.  He offers to take them all so I can have a breather.  Do the dishes in peace.  Finish freezing some extra herbs or berries.  Maybe sit down for a minute and play a tune on the new piano.

We got a new keyboard.  It's not a true piano, but I have a hunch that isn't far behind.  There's only so much you can do with a keyboard, and pedalling is not one.  :)  However, space is an issue here, so keyboard it is for now.  The kids love it and have been begging for "lessons".  Oh yes, little ones, you shall indeed have those!

We went to the petting zoo this past weekend.  The kids love animals, so of course they loved walking around.  Favourites were the deer, the ponies and the bunny rabbits.  And the ducks.  Can't forget the ducks.

There is something about summer work that is pleasant.  Perhaps I am finding it so because D is there to help out in the evenings often, which leaves me a bit of space to plan or execute tricky details.  Or perhaps it's just that time of year and it feels right for this kind of work.  Can't wait till we get in some cucumbers for the pickles!  Perhaps next week...

There are lots of projects happening around here.  Yarn, fabric, wood, food, and music.  Everything that makes life beautiful!  The quilt is almost done.  I stayed up late sewing last night and now I only have the binding left.  I love this simple, rustic style.  It's just a mishmash of old fabrics sewn together in strips - not particularly neatly either.  It just works though.  The kids keep begging me to finish it so they can use it.  I am not sure if I shall leave it for the kids, or keep it as a Christmas gift for a certain special someone, who shall remain nameless.  Perhaps I'll just have to do another one.  And that, my friends, is a happy thought to be sure.  :)

This is a photo of that pink baby sweater.  As you can see, it is now close to completion.  I picked out some sweet wooden buttons with carved flowers on them.  And I have some simple white ones also.  I will probably keep the wooden ones for the grey sweater and use the white for this pink one.  I think.  We'll see when all is said and done.  By the way, most of the progress on this sweater came during morning swimming lessons!  Despite having all the kids with me, even little S, I managed to get at least a couple of rows per day.  Not too shabby.  Now that lessons are finished for the summer, knitting progress may slow.  Especially with all the other projects.  

I am hoping to get back into some iconography before baby arrives, so I have been preparing a few boards these past couple of weeks.  Two of them didn't turn out so well being older, and the gesso wasn't sanding smoothly.  So when the kids asked for their own boards, I was only too happy to oblige.  And they were thrilled!  As you can see, they have their own artistic style.  :)  I am hoping they will agree to a project where we can write a beautiful quote on their boards together, maybe with stencils or something like that.  Then they can give them as gifts, or keep them should they be so inclined.  (Usually I find they like to give away the things they make.  Bless their little hearts!)  

Anyhow.  That's quite an update for me.  Life hasn't been all rosy and gay.  We all have struggles alongside the joys.  In fact, these past two weeks have been particularly trying for some reason.  I find though, that even just a little handiwork is the best medicine for the blues.  Truly.  So, I've been taking as much of that pill as possible.  As you can see!  Hopefully next week there will be some kitchen updates - I do love sharing what's happening in the kitchen!

Happy weekending to you!

21 July 2015

Pie squared

A random post to share a discovery that I have no doubt the rest of the world already knows: You can make pie dough in a food processor.  Oh yes.  I have spent years, decades in fact, not knowing this fact.

But now, I know.  And that is why we have not one, but TWO pies cooling on the stove right now.  Making dough takes a grand total of 3 minutes with a food processor.  Literally.  Butter goes in with flour.  Pulse until crumb-y, add water bit by bit until dough forms a ball.  Done.  What a revelation!

Now, I'm all for knowing the old non-electricity-requiring ways.  For obvious reasons, perhaps.  (Imagine if the power went out for an extended period of time...)  But to have such convenience available is a luxury I have only just discovered.  We don't have a lot of space in the kitchen and elsewhere for that matter, so we have to pick and choose what we keep.  And I have to say that our food processor is truly the star of the kitchen.  It is the most used appliance I have.  (Well, that and maybe the blender for the kids smoothies or jam.)

Anyhow, what started the whole pie thing was a delightful bag of apples from my cousin, who had picked them from her backyard tree.  What a gift!  They were so tart and sour, they were begging to be made into pie.  Around the same time, I noticed a bowl of blueberries leftover from jam-making and in need of attention.  So instead of choosing, I made two pies.

There you go.

No such thing as too much pie, right?  :)

17 July 2015

The first of many...

Between chores, daily swimming lessons and obligatory meals, I have snuck in the time to start work on my very first patchwork quilt.  What an experience!  It's not very neat, to be sure.  I didn't measure very much while I was cutting.  I was in a hurry to finish cutting and start sewing.  (I don't have a lot of time during the day to focus without little hands and little questions taking over.)  A lot of leftover fabric needed to be used up, so it was the perfect project!  I just need to pick out a nice fabric for the backing and another for the binding.

More updates as this unfolds, but can I just say that I have fallen in love with quilting.  I love it.  I want to make quilts all day.  For now anyway.  (And if someone offered to do the measuring and cutting, well I'd be as happy as can be to sew all day!)  I have two other quilts planned out already and just waiting for a trip to Fabricland.  :)

My 6-year-old learned to whistle a couple weeks ago.  It is now rare NOT to find him whistling.  He whistles when he's breathing, when he wakes up from sleeping, while he's working, building lego, playing chess, walking...  It would be hilarious if it also didn't get slightly annoying!  I am trying to work on my annoyance threshold, so I tolerate it for the most part.  Whistling in church is a no-no, however, as well as during nap time.  There are times though where I can't hold it in and I have to ask him to stop.  He complies directly, but 30 seconds later, he's at it again.  Not because he's being defiant.  He is just that absentminded.  At least about whistling.  Oh well.  More opportunities for me, I suppose.

We snuck in time to make some raspberry jam this week.  We were picking peas and the raspberry patch was right beside us.  The kids and I were practically face-first in the bushes stuffing our mouths with those delicious berries!  I still have one more batch to do and then we'll work on some blueberry jam.  Lots of blueberries around.  Those are our three favourite kinds of jams.  The kids do love peach jam too mind you.  I'm just a little bit paranoid of preserving enough peaches first in jars before we look at any peaches for jam.  (In my books, sliced sunny peaches in the winter beat jam...)

Last weekend we went up to visit some family at their cottage near Lake Simcoe.  They are right on the lake.  Such a beautiful place, and lots of wonderful memories for the kids too.  How they loved being outdoors all day, swimming and playing and boating and being surrounded by love and attention.  God bless family.  We had a long drive on the way home and the kids were out cold in the backseat, leaving D and I a chance to talk peacefully together without interruptions.  Heaven.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend too...

9 July 2015

A berry good time

Jam making is always fun.  Especially with tasty berries up for nibbling.  Then there are smears of cooled jam for tasting, of course.  Always have to taste the final product.  This time we added less sugar than usual, which resulted in a more tart jam.  Surprisingly, the kids haven't seemed to notice.  There have been requests for jam at breakfast, lunch and evening snack.  Funny how that works. 

We are hoping to get in some blueberry jam too when they are ripe to harvest.  Then, I think our jam making days will be over.  But not preserving, oh no.  There are peaches, my friends!  Nothing beats a jar of bright summery peaches on a cold January day.  Just the thing to chase away the winter blues!

Also pickles will be made, and hopefully this year sauerkraut.  I would like to get some beets pickled too.  We tried fermenting our pickles last year alongside using vinegar and it was like night and day.  I'll stick to the old fermenting ways thank you!  There really was no comparison, and they are easy as pie to make.

Here's to summer's bounty!

3 July 2015

What a girl!

My little baby turned two!  She is our Canada day baby.  What a sweet little one with her sparkling eyes and wide smile.  She loves to help, though she can get a little difficult when she has other ideas, and her constant stream of babbling is the soundtrack of my life.  (Alongside all the other noise that is 3 kids...)

For her birthday, we went strawberry picking at the Organics Farm.  It was our first time at this particular place, but it won't be our last.  The kids loved it.  Especially little miss.  She could be found at all times in a strawberry bush eating whatever her little hands could find.  Messy mouth, messy hands and a mama who didn't mind.  Her kind of day!

To top things off, we went to another nearby farm for sweet peas.  That was M's idea - or at least he wanted it the most.  D loves that boy, so we squeezed in a side trip.  Sweet peas are a big deal in our house.  We sit around and eat them together in the evenings while we talk away, or play chess.

M is really into chess as of last weekend.  We went to the Dormition monastery and some old friends were visiting at the same time.  Lots of kids running around, to say the least.  It was wonderful!  But since it rained non-stop on Saturday, most of their activities were indoors.  The older boys were wrapped up in chess for a large part, so M picked up the basics there.  Now, all he wants to do is play chess.  I don't mind in the least!  When I'm not available to play against him, J plays for a bit.  Failing that, he plays both sides himself.  Hilarious to watch.  ("Mom, I won the game."  "Really, honey?  Which one of you?"  "My white side.")  Of course, there was a beautiful sunny day on Sunday while we were still in Michigan, so a proper trip to the pond was of the order.  Frog catching was the jeu de jour.  :)

J was just in seventh heaven with all the girls too.  She was the youngest besides the babies, but they played pretend to her heart's content.  She was so sad when we had to leave.  She still keeps asking for her new friends to come and visit - all the way from Wisconsin!  I love seeing these babies of mine find such wholesome, sweet and true friends.  This place is such a haven of love for our family.

I have started another baby sweater just in time for July swimming lessons.  (The two older ones have lessons everyday for a couple of weeks.)  It's the same pattern, but in a different colour - a pretty pastel pink.  I'm trying to cover my bases!  :)  Knitting in a new colour is fun, it feels like a whole new project without being overwhelming.  I still have that lovely gray sweater waiting to be finished.  It's not done yet, but I'd say it's close to 70%.  If we have a boy, the sweater will be the perfect gift to another friend expecting a girl.  If we have a girl, well, a little baby boy who has yet to debut will profit from my knitting zeal.  I do love the milo that Kim has been working on, so I might just have my next project queued up. Not to shabby!

I know it's summer time and most people aren't thinking about books and school, but I thought I'd share some of our favourite reading choices for those interested in such things.  Despite being the time for outdoors, there are plenty of times we curl up together on the sofa with a book.  Usually during afternoon nap/quiet times or on rainy days.  These are a few stories I've noticed get reached for quickly with Paddington and all the Beatrix Potter stories, of course.    

Well, I wish you a happy weekend, full of outdoors and adventures.  I'm off to finish shoe shopping for the boy.  (He happens to SHRED his shoes faster than I could have anticipated...)  And then it's jam time.  I hope.


24 June 2015

Knitting woes and other daily snippets

Another week come and gone and another batch of projects gathering dust as I deal with my knitting incompetence.  I had to rip out a large section of my beautiful sweater because I had forgotten to measure it partway and made it too long in the body.  Great.  It would have been more like a dress than a sweater if I'd have kept going.  I almost did.  In the end, I figured I wanted a sweater, so a sweater is what I'll make.  Heartbreaking to tear out all those hours though.  Probably unravelled half my work.  Oh well.  C'est la vie.

I might need to take a break and start a summer dress for J.  I've been itching to do one in this pretty blue checkered print I bought last year.  That and S is about ripe for a little mini-messenger bag of her own.  (What almost-two year old doesn't love bags?)

Anyhow.  It's popsicle season.  Oh yes siree.  We've made several batches already.  Love having fresh fruit on hand!  Also finished little gifts for M's teachers.  Personalized peg people!  The kids love them.  Hoping the teachers do too!

I am still struggling to find my groove again since I got pregnant.  Our whole schedule has been thrown off since then.  It's really disconcerting.  Some days are great and I get a ton of work done, the kids manage their chores, their work, their play and food gets on the table when it should.  Other days (and I feel like there are a good deal more of these...) it's a struggle for the food alone.  Omelettes are great, so are sandwiches and really anything that can be thrown together quickly.  Leftovers are my friend.

I hope this isn't a sign of things to come when baby arrives.  I mean, I anticipate a period of adjustment where things are rocky.  But I really really really hope that I can find my "sea-legs" soon after.  I'd say that's the only thing that has me a little anxious about #4.  Most mamas I've spoken to with 4 kids or more say that the third was their biggest adjustment.  For me, so far, going from 0 to 1 was my biggest adjustment.  The rest weren't as bad as I thought they'd be.  :)  Maybe it helps in some ways to imagine the worst?

I did a bit of school prep work today while D took the kids swimming.  Love that man.  Don't know where he gets the energy to do things with them.  A trip to the grocery store and I'm bushed.  Anyhow, I'm trying to get as much done as I can when I have any energy.  O second trimester, don't fail me now!

Enjoy your week!

Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along, and Nicole for this week's Crafting On.

15 June 2015

A little rearrangement

We did a little furnitre shuffling this past week to accommodate a new set of bookshelves.  (Have I mentioned yet how much I love Ikea?)  And I must say that I just love how it looks!  We are using it for all our school supplies, work and such props.  It's wonderful having it all in one place.  The kids have already been going on their own to a shelf to take down and work on an activity they are familiar with.  And I'm noticing that clean up is a breeze too.  I can't imagine how we lived without these shelves!  

This is J doing some chalk art.  (I think she said that was a portrait of me.)  And the second photo is showing her working on pouring liquids.  We do a lot of baking, so those kind of things are definitely helpful in a tangible, everyday way.  :)

The kids really are gearing up for summer.  I mean, the weather is consistently warm, and so they are full of plans.  I haven't really sat down to think about what we need to do this summer, except maybe with our curriculum goals.  I'd like to have some activities lined up for July and August - nothing crazy... I'm still exhausted these days and nausea does come and go - something for us to use when we need a change or some new fun.    

D decided we need to plant more spinach and parsley, so we kept a couple extra pots.  Guess what we're doing today!  Actually, today has been a great day so far.  Cleaned the bathrooms, folded the laundry and working on the dirty pile, swept the house and balcony, and set up the play kitchen outside.  A summer space for little ones.  

Hope you have a cheery and productive week!  I'm off to take my afternoon nap.  (Can't last without one...)